Meet your 2020 Maryland BioGENEius Challenge Finalists: Sreejato Chatterjee, Suoyi Feng, and Frank Horrigan. These three students were recognized for their outstanding individual research in STEM fields.
Sreejato Chatterjee, a North Potomac, Md., resident and sophomore at Thomas S. Wootton High School won first place in this year’s competition for his research in biotechnology. His project titled, “A Quantitative Proteo-genomic Analysis for Targeted Therapies in the Management of Bladder Cancer Survival,” analyzed over 400 patient’s proteo-genomic sequencing to determine how targeted therapies affect patient survival. Chatterjee cites his grandfather’s battle with bladder cancer as the inspiration for his research, “I just kept thinking what’s the reason for this? Why does it have to be so painful? What if there were way to treat this differently, as if it were a chronic disease?”
Chatterjee found his drive for science and research at a young age, “I’d say my passion for STEM is what got me involved in research. It provided a great outlet to answer a lot of questions I had for science in general. Scientific research gave me a way to help people.” He credits both his parents and his mentor for supporting him throughout his scientific journey. “When I grow up, I want to continue research and find cures for diseases. I want to work in a medical field, conducting research that can help people. I also want to expand research throughout the community, spreading outreach for those who don’t have access to STEM opportunities.”
Suoyi Feng, a Bel Air, Md., resident and junior at The John Carroll School took home second place in this year’s competition for his research on allergic rhinitis therapy. “I want everyone to be able to spend every minute in their life with the best quality. When I was young, I had a lot of friend with allergies, and it really distracted them, so I wondered if this decreased their quality of life.” Feng’s research aimed to go beyond just relieving allergies; his project titled “Targeting C-C Chemokine Receptor 1 (CCR1) Mediated TNF-α/NF-kB Pathway: A Novel Approach to Allergic Rhinitis (AR) Therapy” demonstrates a novel approach to treating allergic rhinitis.
Feng’s road to success wasn’t always clear, he advises young scientists to “trust your experiments, don’t be afraid to start work on your own. You need to be persistent and focused.” It’s that persistence that led Suoyi Feng to where he is today, an accomplished student with a lifelong goal of helping others find the beauty in life.
His inspiration comes from not only his community, but his studies, “I really like social studies and the arts,” Feng explains. “There’s a lot of things that inspire me, but I think mainly it’s books. I like discovering beauty in poems and Shakespeare’s plays. All the folks I read inspire me through the process, help me to overcome challenges. It helps to answer the question: how do you find some sense in this world?”
Frank Horrigan, a Darnestown, Md., resident and sophomore at Poolesville High School won third place for his project titled “Identification of Chemical Features Associated with Selective Activity of BK Potassium Channel Modulators.” Horrigan’s interest in science started young, growing up with two scientist parents. “I think I’ve always been very curious to learn and ask questions,” he explains. He credits the ability to solve problems as a driving force in his research, “some problems will always remain unsolved; research allows me to answer those questions that no one else can.”
Horrigan’s goal for the future is to continue conducting research, while also practicing medicine. “Being both a doctor and a researcher will give me perspective. By doing both, I can research innovative technology and apply that new tech to help patients.”
He advises aspiring young scientists and peers to “keep an open mind.” After his experience in clinical research, Horrigan has come to realize that success is best found through trial and error. “Don’t give up. If you realize your execution is perfect, then it’s probably the answer that’s wrong. Keep it simple. Don’t be afraid to change your plan.”
One sentiment these students could all agree on is positivity and persistence. Their research represents the great potential of all students when hard work meets opportunity. Learning Undefeated is proud to support these students in STEM education and the many opportunities it allows.